November 15, 2010
The darker side of college
CAUTION: This op-ed by a senior at a Los Angeles area school contains realistic and heartfelt language that some readers may find offensive. Note: some college names were changed to protect the innocent, or applicant.
With the coming of senior year comes a host of new opportunities: emotional, physical, and mental. But the biggest opportunity is obviously, college. As a senior, I have the chance to choose from many distinct colleges and decide which one I should go to. Being the person I am, I decided in 10th grade I was set on BU. So I applied there and that was great, go me. But one of the things I noticed in senior year is that any mention of college with an adult starts a whole dialogue about your future, and how you should look into, definitely look into, that one college. Here’s what every conversation goes like:
ME (at some function with old people): Hi person- who’s- name- I- forgot, haven’t seen you in ever. How’ve you been?
OLD PERSON: Great! Hey, I can’t relate to you in any other way because I’m so old, so what college are you going to apply to?
ME: Well, after hours of thought and work, preparation and meditation, I’ve narrowed down my list to BU. I think it really speaks to my personality, and such.
OLD PERSON: That’s fantastic. Great school. But you know what, here are another twenty other schools that I think are better than the shitty college you like, because I have successful friends who graduated from them.
ME: Go to hell.
So that’s basically how it goes. Note to all of you old people who made mistakes in your life, and are trying to communicate to me the importance of having options in choosing colleges, etc, etc: I get it. I know. I’m young, and you’re old, and so you’re naturally inclined to believe that I’m inexperienced and don’t know that much about making life decisions. And the truth is: you’re right. But I’m not going to get any better at making them if I don’t make any, right?
So keep your comments to yourselves. Yes, I’m sure University of New Hampshire is a great place. And OK, Swarthmore would fit my academic needs. But hey, if I wanted to go to fucking Swarthmore, I would’ve said so. So please, understand that I am more than just a stupid seventeen- year- old. OK, I am a stupid seventeen- year- old, but at the same time, I belong to the same generation that will run the world in forty years. And if you old people use all your time telling us how we should spend our lives, we won’t know how to run our own lives when it counts. And not to get personal, but you probably made the same mistake of listening to the old person of your generation, too. Otherwise you wouldn’t be wasting my time with your pointless comments forty years later.
Listen, old person, I’m not angry. Truly, I’m not. I’m annoyed. I want your trust, random old stranger, because I am a volatile fucking teenager, and I want the confidence to know that I’m making the right choice. The confidence that old fucks like you might be able to give me.
I guess you have taught me one thing, old person. When I’m an old person in your position, and a sleep- deprived high school senior starts talking to me about his first choice college, I’m not going to recommend to the kid a list of other colleges that are way better for that kid, or tell them about how much they will colossally fuck themselves by going to some other college. No. I’ll just pat that kid on the back, flash a smile to their face and tell them,
“You’re going to love it there.”